MB received a response to his last post that made him stop and think………….
MB’s previous post of a few days back concerned the unhealthy lifestyle of many Arabs in the Gulf region. It prompted an interesting question from fellow blogger and resident of USA called Coffeegrounded.
Are women not allowed to gather at cafes during the evening hours?
I live in pure ignorance of the Middle Eastern Lifestyles, mainly for fear that if I search to read about it I will be considered a person of interest…while living in a my native country that espouses freedoms galore.
Sad and pathetic, I find this morally corrupt, for wouldn’t we all be better stewards of humanity if we threw open the windows of our minds and set out to discover the wonder, uniqueness and the similarities that we share?
My glass is always half full, and I live to see the day where we might turn the tide, reaching out to one another, building bridges rather than burning them.
MB is not going to address the second part of CGs comment as it’s a big one to cover and MB is already more than enough a ‘person of interest’ in many quarters he suspects. Nor is MB going to address, for the moment, the question posed about the lifestyle of Arabic women. Another post on that particular question will follow, insha’allah.
Qatar has a population of some 2M. Of the total population approximately 1.2m are citizens of the Indian subcontinent – from Pakistan, Nepal, India and Bangladesh. So if MB is going to start chatting about local lifestyles, he thought it might be a good idea to start with the majority population.
The peoples of the subcontinent carry out virtually all of the manual labour and construction works in the country and the Gulf region generally, and have traditionally suffered the worst of conditions. Thankfully the poor conditions are being addressed at a speed of knots and will hopefully be a thing of the past in the coming years. And whether the corrective action resulted for the international spotlight or from a genuine decision to behave with a sense of decency & humanity to all, the Qatari authorities at least deserve some credit for jumping on the problem, spending the dollars, getting their act together and finding solutions.
If you travel to the Gulf region during the hot months (daily temps from 40C to 50C with very high humidity) you will see the men from the subcontinent doing the physical work on construction sites, on new roads and other infrastructural works, and maintaining & cleaning streets. Mostly they live in labour camps in areas where such camps are concentrated. Company buses drop and collect each day and the camp canteens provide the early morning breakfast, evening meal and packed lunch for the working day. June, July & August have obligatory 3 hour breaks during the hottest part of the day and shaded areas must be provided by employers.
Many countries in the region have areas where guys from these same countries set up shops to cater for their fellow countrymen and for tourists. Typically in these areas you can get the cheapest haircut (approx Euro 2 to 4 – including the head message), the cheapest meals (rice & chicken plus indian bread (approx Euro 2 to 3), and the cheapest electronic goods and cameras (ipad air – approx 300 euro). Generally the shop workers live in the same areas in which the shops are based and accommodation standards can vary greatly.
Qatar has decided to demolish one of the major Indian shopping areas in its capital city Doha, an old decrepit area called Musheireb. Its an area where one can buy a needle or an anchor or anything in between in the warren of tiny shops throughout the locality. Much of the area is already demolished as the multi story modern high rise apartment blocks slowly sprawl and crawl, and in a few years from now all the old Indian shops and old buildings will be no more. Many consider that they will be no loss as the quality of living for the residents is not exactly luxurious, to put it mildly. But MB thinks that the majority of the residents would disagree and are mostly content to have a place of work that generates a monthly salary, however paltry, that allows the residents to get by and send a little home each month to support families in the homeland. MB has spoken to some of them from time to time, and they hope they will be able to set up the shops again in different areas when they eventually get their notices to quit. Not easily done out these parts it must be said, as there is much red tape and official permissions required.
The pics in this post are of the remaining older area of Musheireb, and gives a flavour of how life is lived within. Thanks to CG for inspiring MB to write the most. One or two more posts will follow on the same theme. Insha’allah.